June 13, 2017
This past Friday, I, along with many of our Extension colleagues, celebrated the career of our colleague, Daryl Buchholz. It was a great gathering of well-wishers and a wonderful sendoff to someone who gave so much to the people of Kansas, our colleagues, our profession, and K-State Research and Extension. It also signaled change.
To a small percentage of people, change, even change for change sake, is great and needs to be embraced and pursued. This group is counterbalanced by a few who view change as something to be avoided at all cost. In between those two end points lie the rest of the population, with varying degrees of anxiety, anticipation, fear, contempt, and love regarding change. Despite being agents of change in the lives of others, a study of Extension professionals in our North Central region determined that our personal aversion to change among North Central Region Extension professionals was quite high. Another state or two had higher levels of aversion, but ours was quite high, nonetheless.
Change will come to us as Extension professionals as it always has. For example, we used to conduct our producer meetings on trains at railway stops and stations. It was a highly efficient way to do so. Conditions changed. Now, through technology, we can have people in other countries engaging in and contributing to meetings held in most of our towns throughout Kansas. Most would say this type of change is a good thing, but we can still be anxious about change.
What do I do when facing change in our profession or system? I always remember three things. Perhaps they will help you organize your thoughts when facing change, too. First, the people we serve will always have a desire to improve their and their family’s lives, livelihoods, and communities. Thus, they will need our good research, education, and facilitation to do so. Second, we, as Extension professionals and volunteers, will always have the passion to meet the research, education, and facilitation demands of the people we serve, and we will seek out the necessary professional development and resources to meet these demands. Third, K-State Research and Extension – as a system of federal, state and local partners – will continue to work together to optimize our resources and align our system in order to accomplish the first two points as efficiently as possible.
Those three things have always been present in our Extension profession and system and that will never change.